Number of U.S. Foreign Service Officers at the Baghdad Embassy, out of 200, who are proficient in Arabic.
Conservative law professor and blogger Ann Althouse last year raised a storm with a post titled, “Let’s take a look at those breasts,” attacking Feministing’s Jessica Valenti for “wear[ing] a tight knit top that draws attention to her breasts” in a photograph with President Clinton. Now, Althouse has turned her analytical powers to a video featuring Bill and Hillary Clinton doing a spoof of the final episode of the Sopranos:
Bill says “No onion rings?” and Hillary responds “I’m looking out for ya.” Now, the script says onion rings, because that’s what the Sopranos were eating in that final scene, but I doubt if any blogger will disagree with my assertion that, coming from Bill Clinton, the “O” of an onion ring is a vagina symbol.
Althouse’s students at the University of Wisconsin must feel so proud.
My own views on this remain a bit of a work in progress, but I think I agree with John Edwards. It’s fascinating that there’s been so little pressure on the Democratic candidates to address this issue and so much on the Republicans. It seems to me to be a topic that divides both parties, but where Republicans simply have much stronger feelings than do Democrats.
Meanwhile Kaus notes that near the end of their most recent polling memo (PDF) Carville & Greenberg aren’t finding a ton of enthusiasm for the Senate compromise. It should be said, though, that the compromise with a description pulls about even. Without the description, it’s horribly unpopular.
In today’s Washington Times, Brookings’ military analyst Michael O’Hanlon pens an op-ed attacking Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV) recent remarks about Gen. David Petraeus, calling them “unseemly and unfair.”
Reid last week argued that Petraeus’ early reports from Iraq indicate he is not “in touch with what’s going on in Baghdad.” Petraeus last week claimed life in Iraq is showing “astonishing signs of normalcy,” seemingly ignoring a Pentagon report which found violence in Iraq has remained “relatively unchanged” since the escalation took effect. O’Hanlon’s op-ed appears to posit that “questioning the forthrightness” of Petraeus is unacceptable.
In a statement for ThinkProgress, Center for American Progress senior fellow and former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb responds, noting that O’Hanlon failed to comment on instances where Petraeus has inserted himself into politics:
I was pleased to note that Brookings fellow Michael O’Hanlon agrees that we need an outside group to check on his friend and former Princeton classmate General David Petraeus, a point I argued last month in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
However this glosses over the fact that not only was General Petraeus too optimistic about the training program of Iraq’s forces but that he put this over-optimistic spin in a Washington Post op-ed right before the last presidential election. If Doctor General Petraeus is as smart as O’Hanlon, he had to know that such an op-ed was bound to have an impact on the 2004 elections.
O’Hanlon claims that Sen. Reid “has also shown little interest as majority leader in helping devise a ‘Plan B’ that might replace the admittedly flailing strategy of the president, short of nearly complete and nearly immediate withdrawal.” Reid has led a coalition that passed a timetable for withdrawal in the Senate, and he is the co-sponosor of legislation that would withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by April 1, 2008. O’Hanlon may not like it, but Reid is certainly involved in “devising a Plan B.”
Atrios notes O’Hanlon’s contribution to a “Plan B” has been to simply inform us that “2007 will be make or break time in Iraq,” all the while attacking anyone who wants to act on that statement.
In today’s White House press briefing, a reporter asked Tony Snow whether the President “feels any responsibility” for the Palestinian split. Snow’s unilluminating response:
I think what you really need to be thinking about is the President of the United States did not bind people’s hands behind their back and throw them from rooftops. The President of the United States did not mascarade around with masks pulled over the face and slay people who disagreed with Hamas.
“Former Capitol Hill aides to Sen. Ted Stevens are being questioned by the FBI as part of an investigation into the senator’s relationship with a wealthy contractor. It is the latest indication the Justice Department is scrutinizing the seven-term Alaska Republican in a public corruption investigation that has led to charges against state lawmakers and contractors.”
[T]he FBI…recently questioned former Stevens aides about Bill Allen, a contractor who has pleaded guilty to bribing Alaska legislators.
Allen is the founder of VECO Corp., an Alaska-based oil field services and engineering company that has had tens of millions of dollars worth of federal contracts. Allen also oversaw renovations on Stevens’ home in 2000, according to carpenters who worked on the house.
The FBI is looking closely at that project, which more than doubled the size of Stevens’ home in the ski resort community of Girdwood, about 40 miles south of Anchorage. As recently as two weeks ago, FBI agent Randy Wolverton requested planning records pertaining to the renovation, according to city documents.
UPDATE: Michael Stickings has commentary.
Climate Progress has long been a fan of plug-in hybrids as a critical climate solution for the transportation sector. Google has joined the fight, and they have put together a good video explaining both what a plug in hybrid is and what their strategy will be.
Kudos to the entire Google.org team, lead by Dan Reicher Director, Climate Change and Energy Initiatives Google.org and a former colleague of mine at the Energy Department.
Number of Americans who believe that the economy is getting worse, according to a new Gallup poll, “the most negative reading in nearly six years.”
The Senate crushed both the Republican and Democrat liquid coal amendments today. Quite a sight to see on C-Span — I hope you are all watching the Energy Bill debate online for these fleeting moments of wisdom.
First up, Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Jim Bunning (R-KY) offered an “amendment backed by the coal industry: a national coal-to-liquid fuels standard that reaches 6 billion gallons by 2022″ [E&E Daily (subs. req'd)]. Their plan “would require a 20% reduction in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional gasoline specifically.”
As the Democrats pointed out, though, comparing diesel from coal to gasoline makes no sense, unless you are trying to rig the life-cycle analysis in favor of coal. This amendment died when every Democrat and the greener Republicans voted against it.
Next up, Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Jon Tester (D-MT) offered a $10 billion proposal to “provide loans for carbon capture and storage equipment on coal-to-liquids plants.” Eligible plants “would have to capture and store at least 75% of their carbon dioxide emissions” and “must produce fuels with lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions that are 20% lower than equivalent conventional fuels.”
This would require biomass to be blended with the coal, so the target is achievable, though not easy. The high environmental bar frustrated the Republicans, who all voted against this amendment together with the greener Democrats.
And so partly by design and partly by accident, the liquid coal boondoggle died in the Senate. Just like the founding fathers would have wanted.